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Published: 2005/09/08
by Matt Brockett

Cost of Living – Delbert McClinton

New West Records 3013

Powerful songwriters have an honesty and an ability to "never lose the
lesson" when things don't go their way, and Delbert McClinton embodies both
of these qualities. One minute he's got you up and dancing to rockin' rhythm
and blues as he sings about his willingness to do anything for his woman on
"Hammerhead Stew." The next minute he's ripping your heart out with tales of
love lost and lines like "Thinking about the two of us / But now it's we
three / Your memory, me, and the blues," on the touching "Your Memory, Me and the Blues."

Honesty makes great company for good old-fashioned wit as McClinton reminds us
on "Right To Be Wrong" when he laments "When the words came tumblin' out of
my mouth / I felt it all goin' south / But I kept on talking / Till you started
walking / Now I'm tryin' to dig my way out / Ain't I got a right to be wrong?"
Just about anyone who has ever been in a relationship can relate to that,
and the Creedence Clearwater Revival-esque guitar work gives the song a
lightheartedly sinister feel.

The universal appeal of McClinton's songs is evidenced both in his music, as
well as his lyrics, with stories that any human being can easily relate to.
At the very least, one can grasp the fact that these are tales of real life —
the light of love, the darkness of loss, and everything in between. Tales of
betrayal and love lost like "Down Into Mexico" and "Kiss Her Once For Me,"
have as much a place in McClinton's world as do tales of love found, like "The Part I Like Best," and memories of partying it up on "Had A Real Good Time." That saving wit and undeniable wisdom shows up again in the honky tonk boogie-woogie of "Had A Real Good Time" when Delbert advises us "You learn a lot more bout life, From the things you're not supposed to do."

McClinton is equally as gifted writing and performing upbeat bluesy rockers
about good times as he is writing and performing poignant ballads
about heartache and pain. McClinton's songs are undeniably "life music,"
touching on all aspects of the human experience, and steeped in the spirit
of hope that compels us to continue marching on. Cost Of Living proves that
even at 64, Delbert McClinton hasn't lost a single bit of the talent, wit,
and genuine wisdom that has made him such an undeniably gifted and respected
musician over the years.

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